John W. Eyster: Wisconsin must drop its full-time Legislature
9 months and a few days of PAID VACATION! Adjourned: WI State Assembly as of March 21. WI State Senate as of April 1. NO FOOLIN'!
We do NOT need a FULL-TIME LEGISLATURE! In fact, we must get rid of our FULL-TIME LEGISLATURE!! It costs too much! It creates too much time for mischief! It means our legislatures have LONG vacations with full-pay! What do YOU think?
Do YOU realize that WE THE PEOPLE of WI are NOW paying our FULL-TIME LEGISLATORS full compensation while they are ON VACATION until the next session of the legislature convenes in January 2015. I do KNOW the propaganda of the legislators – they are WORKING… let me see a log of the legislator's daily schedule… I am outraged that we continue to pay the INCUMBENTS to campaign for re-election… at the same time, NEWCOMERS who are running for election to our legislator are NOT being paid to campaign. Is this really a fair situation? I do NOT think so! What do YOU think?
I urge you to learn about the NEBRASKA legislature by reading Wikipedia's article, “Nebraska Legislature,” for information to develop ideas for reform our WISCONSIN state legislature. I've articulated several times my support for UNICAMERAL legislature for states. Just like NEBRASKA! While we do need the BICAMERAL legislature at the national level, I do NOT think we need two chambers in the states in spite of the fact that NEBRASKA is the one and only state with a UNICAMERAL legislature. And that is because the PEOPLE of NEBRASKA had the power of referendum to change their original bicameral legislature to a UNICAMERAL legislature. WE THE PEOPLE of WI do NOT have this control… so; it is NOT going to happen! The title for ALL state legislators in NEBRASKA is “Senator” and are NON-partisan.
Senators in NEBRASKA are paid $12,000/year. (Compare with $49,943 plus per diem available to legislators from outside Dane County of $88/day for our WISCONSIN legislators.) The legislature is LIMITED to 90 working days in odd-numbered years and 60 working days in even-numbered years. Looking at WISCONSIN this year, OUR OWN FULL-TIME LEGISLATURE with its MUCH HIGHER COMPENSATION may have worked a few more than 60 days – I am not able to find that data – IF you know that count, please post a comment with your source cited.
For information and perspective on the full-time v. part-time discussion, you should read State Representative Mandela Barnes statement, “How About a Part Time Wisconsin Legislature?” issued February 1, 2013. He cites a 2009 study from the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) reporting that Wisconsin is one of only 10 states with a full time lawmaking body.
Again, we do NOT have the power to reform our WISCONSIN LEGISLATURE to become a PART-TIME legislature again. The LEGISLATORS with our GOVERNOR are the ones who moved WI to a FULL-TIME legislature… IF WE THE PEOPLE had had power of referendum to STOP THAT CHANGE, I believe we would have STOPPED IT! What do YOU think?
John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor of political science at UW-Whitewater and an advocate for Project Citizen, a model curriculum for democracy/civics education in Wisconsin high schools. John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.